Plymouth legislators, union members and labor experts will attend a rally outside the State House next Tuesday, June 19, to protest Entergy's ongoing lockout of union workers at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, according to a press release from UWUA Local 369.
Union members have been picketing outside Pilgrim since June 5 when the union's contract expired without a new one in place. With the union threatening to have its workers walk off the job at any time, Entergy decided to lock out union members.
The two sides have not attempted to go back to the negotiating table despite entreaties from local, state and federal officials.
The rally takes place Tuesday, June 19 at 1 p.m. Among those expected to attend are Mass. AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman, Senate President Therese Murray, State Rep. Martin Walsh, State Treasurer Steven Grossman, and representatives from other unions. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the Greater Boston Labor Council, the Plymouth-Bristol Central Labor Council will also be at the rally.
"We want to send the message that Massachusetts will not tolerate Entergy’s excessive profits at the expense of the safety of our workers and communities, and that’s why we’ve chosen this highly visible location outside the State House for the rally," UWUA Local 369 President Dan Hurley said in the release. "We’re grateful for all the support we’ve received from our elected officials and community and business leaders and union brothers and sisters. We remain committed to keeping our communities safe, and we hope Entergy will do the right thing. They need to return to the bargaining table and let our workers continue their important jobs."
During the past week, elected officials from across the Commonwealth have criticized Entergy’s lockout of nearly 250 members of UWUA Local 369, arguing that preventing these workers from doing their jobs needlessly places surrounding communities at risk. Many of these workers have decades of experience running the 40-year-old nuclear power plant.
"Entergy is making more than a million dollars a day just from Pilgrim alone, and it’s deeply alarming to know that the company places profits before worker safety and the wellbeing of our local communities," AFL-CIO President Tolman said. "Entergy’s unreasonable and callous actions are putting our entire region at risk, and they need to hear loud and clear that such actions are not acceptable in Massachusetts."
Pilgrim and union officials spent nearly two months negotiating a new contract. Key issues included health care costs, safety and staffing issues. Earlier this week the union filed a complaint against Entergy with the National Labor Relations Board.
At the end of May, Pilgrim's operating license was renewed for another 20 years, days before the original 40-year license was set to end.
Earlier this week, Congressman Bill Keating walked the picket line outside of Pilgrim. Keating criticized Entergy’s lockout, saying in a statement that the union workers "are the men and women we need operating this plant. It is imperative they are reinstalled in their jobs and I strongly urge Entergy to come back to the table immediately."
A local attorney has also filed a complaint against Entergy, alleging that the company’s housing of replacement workers onsite at the nuclear power plant violates local Plymouth zoning laws.
Entergy operates or manages ten nuclear power plants around the nation, including those in Michigan, Vermont, Arkansas and Mississippi.